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The recent case of honour-killing that took place in Kerala, shook us as it is the second such case in the state which highlights that honour- killing is not confined to North India as many think.
We tend to think of honour killings as incidents that happen in North Indian states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. But, it seems we are mistaken.
I personally used to think of honour killings as the stuff of movies, like the brilliant Marathi-language film, Sairat,or rare crimes that happened in some faraway places. It was never real to me in the way other crimes such as rape were. Obviously, I thought it was a terrible crime, but I adopted a rather distant attitude towards it assuming it happened only in certain parts of the country that I had never been to (clearly, a very problematic approach to the issue). Turns out, that’s not the case.
In 2016, in Udumalpet in Tiruppur district of western Tamil Nadu, a Dalit man called Sankar was murdered by goons arranged by his wife Kausalya’s family (they were of the Thevar community – a different caste).
And recently, the happiness of a newly married couple in Kerala was abruptly brought to an end due to the abduction and killing of the husband. This is the second case of honour killing in the state and it is ironical as Kerala is the state with the highest literacy rate.
Neenu and Kevin fell in love and married each other against the wishes of her family. Her family could not take the ‘dishonour’ brought to them. So, Neenu’s brother led a gang that kidnapped Kevin and his relative, Anish – they killed Kevin and severely injured Anish. It is truly tragic that such a thing happened at all, and the fact that it has happened before and continues to happen all over India is utterly devastating!
The problem seems to lie in Indians’ continued belief in the sanctity of caste – many of us just can’t seem to accept the validity of inter-caste marriages. Especially if the woman is from the upper caste, because a family’s ‘honour’ is tied inextricably to its women because of patriarchy. Caste is also passed down through the father, so if a woman marries a man of a lower caste, then their child will not be of her caste which causes huge outrage in the woman’s family members. This is why, even in ancient India, Anuloma(marriage of a lower caste woman to a higher caste man)was considered more acceptable than Pratiloma (marriage of a higher caste woman to a lower caste man). Controlling women is absolutely necessary to keep a caste ‘pure’.
Patriarchy and the caste system combine to give Indian society one of its biggest social evils – honour killings. And this particular social evil is not restricted to any one part of India. It’s a disease that has seeped into every cell of the nation! We have to cure ourselves of it. We have to fight against it. We have to stand up for ourselves and others. Let us make sure that the dictum, “All Indians are my brothers and sisters”, does not remain a mere pledge we forced ourselves to say everyday in school.
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